Adam v Saenger

US Civil Procedure

Adams v Saenger
Image: ‘Texas Longhorn Skull’ by Marlon Rose

When parties to an existing litigation require an immediate defence response, the essence of the Constitution reminds those involved, that regardless of how such matters are realised, the purpose of natural law is to permit resolution in every state.

On this occasion, a Texas-based exporter and importer commenced action against a former California-based client for the recovery of monies concerning goods purchased and delivered prior to their dissolution. In response, the appellant issued a cross-complaint to recover monies for the conversion of chattels, after which the superior court of California dismissed the respondents claims, along with their contention that the cross-complaint had not been lawfully served, thus prompting an appeal to the Texas Court of Civil Appeals. Here, it was held that at the time the complaint was served, the California court lacked jurisdiction to uphold such a claim over an out-of-state entity, therefore due process was unsustainable and null by effect.

Pursued in the US Supreme Court, the decision of the Texas Appeals Court was reviewed, giving particular regard to s.1 of art IV of the Constitution, which reads:

“Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

And while the complaint served was ancillary to the original action, the Texas Court of Appeals based its judgment on the principle that any matter of fact or law determinable by jurisdiction unrelated to the cause of litigation is subject to adjudication, as was held in Thompson v Whitman, and that the complaint was deemed independent of the original matter, and therefore subject to such a review.

However in Hanley v Donoghue, it had been equally held by the US Supreme Court that:

“Whatever was matter of law in the court appealed from is matter of law here, and whatever was matter of fact in the court appealed from is matter of fact here.”

More importantly, s.442 of the California Code of Civil Procedure provides that:

“Whenever the defendant seeks affirmative relief against any party, relating to or depending upon the contract, transaction, matter, happening or accident upon which the action is brought, or affecting the property to which the action relates, he may, in addition to his answer, file at the same time, or by permission of the court subsequently, a cross-complaint.”

While s.1015 (as amended by St.Cal.1933) also notes:

“When a plaintiff or a defendant, who has appeared, resides out of the State, and has no attorney in the action or proceeding, the service may be made on the clerk or on the justice where there is no clerk, for him. But in all cases where a party has an attorney in the action or proceeding, the service of papers, when required, must be upon the attorney instead of the party…”

Therefore when the appellant issued his complaint to the attending attorney, both aspects of Californian law were satisfied enough to uphold the powers of art.IV of the Constitution, and that such diligence by the appellant lawyer was now grounds enough for the Court to reverse the Texas Appeal Courts decision with a view to the resolution of the proceedings in question.

Key Citations

“There is nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment to prevent a state from adopting a procedure by which a judgment in personam may be rendered in a cross-action against a plaintiff in its courts, upon service of process or of appropriate pleading upon his attorney of record.”

Author: Neil Egan-Ronayne

Author, publisher and foodie...

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